*As Gov Akeredolu restates commitment
*MOU with AFN to be signed in Abuja for project to commence
By Oluwole Francis
Governor Olurotimi Akeredolu has restated his government’s commitment to develop the avalanche of sporting potentials in Ondo State. We are interested in making the youths in the state productively engaged. This is coming with the state having gotten the National Sports Development Centre for south West as organised by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).
In a release signed by Bode Akinwumi, Press Officer, Governor’s Office in Akure, the partnership briefing in his office in Akure, the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), said the State Government was prepared to put everything into sports development because of its strategic importance in nation building and as a profitable venture by which youths could live comfortably.
While describing the tripartite Sports Partnership between Ondo State Government; Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and Nigeria Sports Development Fund Incorporated (NSDFI) as a worthwhile venture that will positively impart the socioeconomic lives of citizens of the state, Arakunrin Akeredolu said sports has the capacity to promote healthy society and individuals.
“Sports is an exercise that promotes healthy society. Sports builds a strong body where sound mind resides. Sports can bound a nation faster than economy. Whatever we have to do to make sports meet the needs of our youths would be done”, the governor said.
Providing an insight into the partnership, the facilitator of the project, Mr Olajide Fashikun who is also the Director General of Nigeria Sports Development Fund Incorporation (NSDFI), said the central focus of the project was to take the burden of sports financing away from the shoulders of government; scout for raw talents in sports across the state; develop such talents to stardom and support the state economy through earnings from sports programmes.
Mr Fashikun, a former Zamalek SC of Egypt professional handball player, said for the actualisation of developing sports at the grassroots throughout the country, Six National Sports Development Centres have been approved by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) to coordinate the initiative. Adding that one centre would be sited in each geopolitical zone and that the centre for Southwest Nigeria would be in Ondo State consequent upon the favourable disposition of the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu administration to grassroots development of sports.
Mr Fashikun who said fund raising would be by a private participation process within the state called for an update of the law regulating the State Lottery and Pools Betting Agency to conform with modern day realities that would enable the state retain 20% of funds raised in the state to develop other sectors of her economy.
He stated that the Ondo State centre would concentrate on at least five sports which include: Swimming, Tennis, Table Tennis, Athletics and Baseball
The Team leader who is also the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, Hon Ibrahim Gusau commended Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for his commitments to sports development and said dividends from such ventures would always come in leaps and bounds.
The AFN President said who was accompanied on the visit by the some National Secretariat Staff led by the AFN Secretary General, Mr Amechi Akawo described sports as a veritable vehicle of national cohesion, a money spinning venture and one of the world largest employer of youths.
In a chat with Government House Reporters, the Honourable Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Hon Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye, said there would be six Sports Development Centres in Ondo State, two per each Senatorial District, to enable the initiative of catching sports talents at the grassroots be thorough and all inclusive.
He believed that the tripartite partnership would rejig the sports sector in the state and make it a revenue earner rather than being a spending sector.
Two time Olympic medallist, Mary Onyali, who is the Technical Director of Nigeria Sports Development Fund Incorporated and the AFN Technical Director, Mr Sunday Adeleye were present at the briefing.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would be signed in due date in Abuja by the parties to signal the commencement of the project.